Chehalem Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley 2018

Medium ruby; cherry, blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, earth, oak spice on the nose; cherry, raspberry, strawberry; blueberry, plum on the palate.

Chehalem Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley 2018

Dry; silky tannins; excellent acidity (3.54 pH). Light, ethereal body. Good depth and complexity with nice finish where the earth notes play out. Only a brief hint of oak. Fermented in open-top stainless steel for 8-15 days. Aged 10 months in barrel. Hint of tartness—this is cooler climate pinot.

Some 19% of this 100% pinot noir came from estate fruit. The winery notes: “The 2018 vintage was magic. Following the trend of the past several vintages, summer was warm, but nighttime temperatures remained cool, helping the fruit to hold its natural acidity. As harvest approached, temperatures cooled ever so slightly creating perfect fruit ripening conditions. With no big rainstorms on the horizon, we never had an urgency to pick. Once we started picking fruit, the vintage was slow and consistent with perfect flavors and lab numbers. The 2018 vintage will produce fantastic wines.”

The estate vineyards and winery were LIVE certified in 2008. LIVE certification acknowledges socially responsible winegrowing and winemaking in the Pacific Northwest. Chehelem earned B Corp Certification in 2018—B Corp determines companies ensure they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance.

Chehalem solar panels and vineyard

The vineyard/winery started in 1980 when the Peterson-Nedrys family purchased the property and planted pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. The Howieson family planted the first grapes in the Corral Creek area in 1983. In 1990, Chehalem harvested the first grapes at Ridgecrest. In 1993, Bill Stoller purchased his family’s estate in Dayton and joined Chelalem.

Bill Stoller then embarked on a noteworthy career in the region, gaining complete control of Chelalem in 2018 by purchasing Henry Peterson-Nedry’s interest in Chehalem. This followed a 24-year partnership with Peterson-Nedry. Stoller comments on the website: “Harry Peterson-Nedry has been a mentor to me,” said Stoller. “When Harry first asked me to be an investor, I saw an opportunity to help fund a friend’s dream and the chance to be a part of something with the potential to be iconic. As we enter this next chapter, I am honored to shepherd CHEHALEM’s legacy.”

“No one understands more how special the CHEHALEM brand is, how much passion and rigorous work it has taken, how much collaboration with other Willamette Valley pioneering wineries has gone on, than Bill,” said Peterson-Nedry. “I take comfort knowing he will respect its heritage in a way that no one else could.”

Stoller is the founder and CEO of The Stoller Group, also the president and vice-chairman of Express Employment Professionals, and founder and CEO at Xenium HR & Employer Services. A native Oregonian, Stoller holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Economics from Pacific University, and an MBA from Portland State University.

Chehalem Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley 2018 is superb Willamette Valley effort, especially for the price. Oregon pinot noir typically is lighter and more ethereal than California’s efforts, and this certainly fits that profile. Excellent fruit, balanced, well made. Pair with poultry; turkey; salmon; veal; venison; lighter beef. $30-35

Chehalem Wines website

Nice videos tell Chehalem story (scroll to the bottom of the page); also extensive photos

Chehalem Corral Creek vineyard (Andrea Johnson)
Chehalem Ridgecrest vineyard
Chehalem tasting room
Bill and LaRue Stoller